Selling Collaboration Technology

How to identify the root needs.

The information shared between people is priceless. How it’s shared is just as important. As the world shrinks and we need to collaborate with more people in more places, it’s important that organizations have the tools to do it effectively, both in the room and remotely, which is possible more than ever, given the rise in high-quality video calling services.

When it comes to collaboration technology, integrators often ask us, “What’s the best way to really sell these products?” The first step is to identify how businesses currently want to collaborate and why. Any time two or more people are engaging, that’s “collaboration.” But, obviously, that can include a lot of different tasks, and it can mean engagement across the board room, across the office or across the globe. Customers choose collaboration technology for different reasons, depending on what they need to do.

Everyone who is in the market to increase communication and provide better brainstorming can use collaboration technology for a meeting space, classroom, or just around the building or campus for huddle locations. Growing companies with global or remote teams are especially suited for collaboration solutions that enable employees worldwide to feel like they are with the team at headquarters. If people need to talk with clients on a regular basis to share or present information, video calling and large-format conference-room technology are the ideal ways to share ideas and strategies.

In some cases, collaboration consists of two people in a room; in others, it’s a lot of people in different buildings around the world. Sometimes it combines both. There are devices that work for multiple scenarios, such as a giant touchscreen system with SIP (Session Initiation Protocol) video calling, which can make videoconferencing and group work across multiple locations efficient and easy.

This is where the integrator’s knowledge can come in handy. As an effective integrator, you should guide customers and suggest which collaboration products will help them run a more efficient and collaborative business. When talking with potential customers, you should first and foremost learn what your customer wants to do. What is the company’s goal? Make this a priority: Find out what a customer needs before trying to sell them something they don’t care about and won’t use. Once you understand the customer’s needs, you’ll be in a better position to recommend the appropriate collaboration technology, which may not be what they originally thought. (It may also not be your highest-margin product!)

For example, most of the time, understanding the customer’s workflow will help identify the challenges that require solutions. Don’t just ask what they want, but ask where they are having trouble today. Ask what they would do differently if they could, and whether they have teams outside the building they would like to connect with. What tools or software are they using today? Take advantage of different product brands’ resources, including training and demonstration assistance.

Say, for example, that it’s the manager’s goal to cut costs for expensive travel budgets and reduce the time that teams waste on the road without any impact to company success. For this company, time is the most valuable resource and travel costs continue to soar. Recommend collaboration technology that can help replace travel, that closely mimics the productivity of an in-person meeting and can make the team more efficient. Pinpointing these benefits will help you connect with the customer on his desired level, and illustrates how the additional value can help close the sale. Be sure to understand the benefits of collaboration and videoconferencing.

Every day, people gather in hallways or offices to look at something on a whiteboard. Now scale that to more than 16 people in eight different countries in a way where everyone can easily see, understand and save the information being shared. In concept, it’s simple, but the technology is complex. Nonetheless, adding business-grade videoconferencing gives the same sense of connection and collaboration as an in-person meeting. This enhanced connectivity extends to remote offices, factories, vendors, partners, suppliers, teachers, students and government branches to provide the most effective and efficient communication anytime, anywhere.

Some benefits in addition to reduced travel time and cost include:

  • ability to meet anywhere, instantly: Gone are the days of scheduling a service to have a conference call where you look at PowerPoint and not each other. Today’s videoconferencing is as easy as a phone call and works between two people or 200.
  • minimized time wasted at the beginning of a call: Too often, people spend the first 10 minutes of every meeting messing around with connections, equipment or calling for support. Enterprise-grade videoconferencing with the proper equipment should not require interaction with the IT department at the beginning of the call.
  • improved interpersonal connections: The phone and dialup services do not offer the same interpersonal benefit as video. Phone calls exclude the critical cues given by body language, which provides deeper understanding and meaning.
  • having every required person at any meeting: People are often excluded from remote meetings because of the time and cost of travel, with teams being challenged to stay on the same page. Videoconferencing allows all team members the opportunity to participate.

These are just some of the features and benefits of collaboration technology that end users can get excited about. Be sure to tailor your sales pitch to the benefits the customer will find most compelling, and lead with them.

One of the simplest ways to enable collaboration is to use group technology that works with the wide variety of devices that employees already have, and gives them the ability to connect and display their content easily. Enhanced productivity and reduced time-to-market are the main reasons companies are looking to add videoconferencing and collaboration/data sharing tools via new corporate AV equipment. Being able to meet spontaneously face to face not only allows people at different locations to get more done faster, but it also improves camaraderie, communication and employee morale, which provides a competitive advantage.

Last, and most important, the best way to succeed when selling collaboration technology is to understand the benefits of the products available. It’s tough to convince a potential customer about the benefits of certain technology and devices without firsthand knowledge. The customer is looking to you to be an expert, a trusted adviser. He is looking for you to know what will work best for his unique circumstances and demonstrate a resolution to his concerns and needs for a new collaboration solution.
The best way to do this is to test and use the devices you sell and invest in solid training around collaboration technology to become an expert who can give valuable advice and opinions to customers. Most collaboration technology providers offer virtual and flexibly scheduled training to make sure you understand all the capabilities of the products and how to best use them for each customer’s needs.

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